Holiday home owners face tax penalties over foreign bank accounts

NPGabruzzo Image
08/18/2009 - 11:12

An interesting article for all of you who have a foreign bank account!Follow the link below to find out more -


Any UK citizen must/should declare Intrest earned from any source Offshore or otherwise; likewise Italian Residents should declare monies earned from all sources, this has been the case for many many years. The Inland Revenue is trying to cut down on willful Tax Evasion by people 'hiding' money in Offshore accounts.The average Holiday Home owner should not be to worried with all this ...

 Sounds like a Mail on Sunday 'the communists are coming' story.  And frankly, if you earn ANY interest in an Italian bank account i would be surprised.  Unless you have millions stashed away, you pay out more in taxes and charges that you could ever earn in interest! 

 Gromit is right, but I think the problem lies where a person opens an account in a foreign country and declares for that he/she is non tax-resident and therefore does not pay tax at source.  The person then does not declare the interest in his/her home country.  Then tax is not collected in any state and the UK has no way of checking. There used to be remittance rules for non-domiciled UK tax residents but these may have changed as a result of the change in tax law for non-domiciled UK tax residents.  I have not kept up to date with these rules as banks in Italy pay so little interest on credit balances and savings that I do not invest in them anymore.  Sometimes it is far cheaper to borrow from them and invest in the UK than the other way round.  I have noticed that tax is deducted at source on my Lloyds offshore accounts. Lloyds tells me it is as a result of new EEA rules.  I think these changes are more important: : This is the introduction to the HMRC leaflet:  "Landlords with income from furnished holiday accommodation in the UK arecurrently treated as if they are trading for certain tax purposes, as long as theysatisfy certain tests, under the Furnished Holiday Lettings (FHL) rules. Landlords with income from furnished holiday accommodation elsewhere in theEuropean Economic Area (EEA) cannot currently qualify for this treatment. They were treated instead in the same way as landlords of other types of overseas property, under the property income rules. This difference may not be compliant with European law. The Government hasdecided it should repeal the FHL rules from 2010-11. Until the FHL rules are repealed, HMRC will regard the FHL rules as applying to furnished holiday accommodation elsewhere in the EEA."  I have read somewhere that the EEA has criticised the UK for its unequal tax treatment of agricultural land in the EEA.  Some changes should be on the way. Question is will the UK government make it more attractive to hold agricultural land in the EEA in the future? Italy is already a inheritance tax haven compared with the UK If this were the case Italy would become even more attractive. A good cross-border tax accountant is an absolute necessity: unfortunately I am not one but I use the services of a very competent one: it is money well spent! 

As I see it there are two aspects to this. Firstly, "offshore" locations such as the Channel Islandsd etc were required from some time ago to supply a list of UK accountholders to the HMRC. Not details, just a list of names. The greater powers referred to in the article may be the next stage of that.More recently, the European Savings Directive was introduced which requires banks etc in EU member states to "exchange information" about foreign (i.e. other EU) account holders with their home tax authority. That will sort out most of the holiday home owners.I don't necessarily think there is going to be a witch-hunt because HMRC have bigger fish to fry (and not enough pans) but the time will come when everybody's computery is good enough and integrated enough to charge tax automatically. Personally I'd quite like to have a clever dodge to prevent taxation, but I haven't, so if it's only the fat cats who are getting away with it, I don't mind them plugging any loopholes.

The context of this article (liked to below) is particularly relevant to a US taxpayer, but I think we are looking at the same 'banking transparency' alluded to in the Daily Mail article. Clearly the 'stated intentions' are to control money laundering by drug runners and terrorists, but if you happen to have as much a €10,000 in an Italian bank account - earning you maybe €10 per annum (given the bank charges in Italy!) - not declaring this could land you with a big fine from the IRS (if you are an American citizen), and who knows what the Inland Revenue could screw from you based  on this crumb of now public information.(The consideration that the article is not talking about Italy is irrelevant: probably it is also irrelevant that the article is focussed on the IRS in the United States, it should, IMO, be read more broadly as a warning about what you can no longer 'get away with' with impunity.)

Sir TK - HMRC should spend their time on the big fish but they don't.  So many get away with vast sums - some are downright criminals and others are 'top' businessmen who know all the loopholes.  The 'small' man is an easy target and therefore very vulnerable to being caught.  I know of self employed people who have been hounded for trivial amounts, who, by nature of the business they are in cannot fiddle anything worthy of an investigation  - but HMRC think otherwise!  Be aware.

I had a blazing row over the potential to invest in Buoni Postali with a woman from the Inland Revenue.She said that irrespective of where you earn it, if you are a british national then it must be declared.  She also added that 'they' don't know if you have an account abroad, which i find very difficult to believe, as Italy is a country which shares tax information with Britain.As has been said before though, the Inland Revenue, know better than to get into complex calculations and litigation over loopholes and clever accountancy, and so as always it is easiest to prey on the simple man in the street, who is in effect pondlife to be beaten with whatever means are necessary as they don't and can't fight back.Ultimately when you pay tex you are in effect bribing the taxman to just stay off your back.  I do find them a particularly objectionable breed of government lackey.  I do find it impressive that the whole system is by default limits a person of humble origin form rising above their station.This is particularly poignant as since my father's death I have now the need to look at banking in both countries, and realise that I'm between the devila and the deep blue sea - bank in italy and be charged, or move resource to and from the UK and be chraged tax on it.  I was looking at perhaps Italian banks with branches here in the UK, where I could effectively have monies in one pot for use in the UK and Italy.Oh well..

I can see you dont like the Inland Revenue , but actually from another point of view,they are also there to help and advise, and it is never very helpul to argue from a weaker position. They are there to apply the rules of double taxation, which some of us here have to pay, better to make a "friend" than an enemy, as many of us now living in Italy have found.And why should we not pay tax for the services we receive?. Not sure why you should think that people of "humble origin" should be exempt?A

Actually Angie and Robert, the argument was over the principle of the matter;The bonifico postale matures over a term, and at the end of the term the amount is tax free. My question was that if I were to take advantae of one such bonifico would I still have had to pay tax on it as it was tax exempt in it's member country, and given that we are in what is after all a common market- ergo, why should I still be taxed in the UK?It's no different to an ISA essentially, the end earning is tax free.I have no objection to paying for services or repaying into the education/ police/ hospitals system.  And no, I don't think that people of humble origin should be 'exempt' - that's not what I said at all.I am fully aware of the rules of disclosure, and naturally when a sizeable sum of money is wired into my UK account, I don't mind being questioned about it, as I have nothing to hide - however, I have taken advantage of the fact that I, as an Italian national can invest in such a manner, and I don't see why the IR should have a slice of that when they already tax me on other earnings. So you're telling me that should you sell everything in Italy that you have worked for, and moved back to the UK with the proceeds, you'd be happy to have 40% taken from you under the guise of 'income tax'?Also, double taxation... so you're saying that you still have to pay the UK government income tax even though you are working and living in Italy?

I don't see it as unfair treatment, unfortunately it's just the way it is that greives me.I don't really think a commercialista will be of much use, however a good cross border accountant would be worth his weight in gold!